» Trynica daniels – tdaniels8@my.apsu.edu

By the time young adults begin college, many have already been in relationships and experienced the nasty phenomenon of a breakup. Breakups can occur for a number of reasons, but one of the most devastating reasons for a breakup — one that crushes self-esteem and destroys trust — is infidelity.

Traditionally, cheating involves something like having two girlfriends at the same time or having sex with one man even though you are engaged to another.

But in the age of technology, some profess cheating can happen while someone is sitting down in a chair, tapping keystrokes and looking at a screen.

“Sexting and Internet photos and the kinds of things we’ve been hearing about on the news are definitely infidelity,” reported family therapist Dr. Lindle Mintle to CBN News. “Whenever you betray the covenant of marriage by going outside the marriage to fulfill a sexual need without your partner, that’s infidelity.”

Specialists in this touchy gray area have established one very simple guideline with which to monitor behavior online. If you would feel guilty sending it with your significant other beside you, or you feel like you need to keep your Internet activity secret from him or her because you think they would feel betrayed, then it’s cheating, plain and simple.

The majority of Americans consider emotional betrayal to be equivalent and no less despicable than the physical act of cheating. A poll conducted by ABC News reported 64 percent of adults believe if a person in a serious relationship participates in suggestive conversations on the Internet, they are being unfaithful.

It’s easy to accidentally cross this blurry line when typing away on the Internet. Generally, the Internet promotes a feeling of anonymity, which leads to feeling your actions on the Internet are harmless. But innocuous flirting with some stranger on the Internet can easily escalate into full-blown infidelity, as the flirter begins to speak more and more often with the digital object of his or her desires and perhaps forms an emotional connection, or even begins to fantasize about being with this other person.

Easily-accessed websites, opportunities to privately browse or clear history and a lack of understanding there is any wrongdoing being done contributes to this slippery slope that is unfortunately all too easy to fall prey to.

It’s important to remember with the click of a mouse, you can lose a relationship you’ve been building for years, and with a few offhand keystrokes, you can break the heart of the person who means the world to you.

However, relationships can sometimes be strengthened after adversity if the two parties can come clean with each other, acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them.

Internet cheating is the same as any other kind of cheating, and requires the same careful avoidance or, if the deed has already been done, the same counseling and healing. TAS